Hotel MOU: DCC #fail


Hotel Memorandum of Understanding (PDF, 297 KB)

Comment received from Rob Hamlin
Submitted on 2014/03/11 at 10:54 am

Perhaps the most unfortunate thing about this is the precedent that it sets. The MOU essentially commits the Council to make it happen by whatever means and by whatever council costs are necessary. The ludicrous conflict of interest that this sets up between the Council as developer regulator and Council as developer agent is breezily dismissed early on. If the DCC fails to deliver what the developer wants, then they (we) get to pay all the developer’s costs too. Thereby setting up a situation with considerable motive for the developer to increase the toxicity of this regulatory ‘poison pill’ by inflating these costs a la Carisbrook Stadium Charitable Trust.

There is nothing in this document that indicates why it is a special case or anything that defines it as a ‘one off’. This means that the next time a large developer wants to carve up rural zoned land on the Taieri or build an exclusive shooting resort next to the Albatross Colony all they have to do is download the .pdf of this MOU from McPravda’s website, replace Jing Song’s name with their own and present it to Cull and Bidrose with a request to ‘please sign this forthwith’. I can see no legal grounds on the basis of equity of treatment of development proposals by the territorial authority upon which Cull and Bidrose could reasonably refuse to do so. Refusal would therefore promptly lead to court action.


Related Posts and Comments:
10.3.14 Hotel: DCC and COC sell out Dunedin community to Chinese trojans
26.2.14 Hotel: Rosemary McQueen on consent decision LUC 2012-212
14.2.14 Hotel: The height of arrogance
25.6.13 Hotel/Apartment Tower decision to be appealed

█ For more, enter *hotel* in the search box at right.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, CST, DCC, Democracy, Design, Economics, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design, What stadium

16 responses to “Hotel MOU: DCC #fail

  1. Councillors’ thoughts on the MOU are somewhat lightweight – few mention the impost on ratepayers it will involve.

  2. Anonymous

    This council is dead set on achieving one billion dollars in debt. This all boils down to stripping towns of wealth. The people behind these money grabs do not care about collateral damage and the communities do not want to acknowledge the consequences.

    Prior to 2000 this city’s debt was $30M. In less than 15 years it is now believed to be $800M and the interest alone is thought to be growing by $20M per year. None of that has gone on anything substantial and has returned nothing of value to the community at large.

    We will be stepping in potholes for a very long time.

  3. Hype O'Thermia

    Anonymous, relax and smell the decay! There’s a product available so ratepayers can fix potholes ourselves, leaving more rates money for the council to fritter away on their or other movers’ and shake-downers’ dream projects: “EZ STREET Cold Asphalt is a polymer-modified cold asphalt guaranteed to permanently repair potholes….”

  4. Editorial loses the plot, shock horror. Co-operation is a dirty, expensive word.

    Finally, a co-operative approach
    Pragmatic onlookers are likely to forgive the loved-up platitudes spoken and be relieved at news of the agreement.

    Ah no, the pragmatic of Dunedin are bloody irate at the DCC’s duplicity here.

    The Council having stupidly notified the ‘hotel’ application too soon, at the point where the application was very clearly DEFICIENT; the Council having been to Hearing on the application at considerable cost to all involved; the Council is now lumbered and at the mercy of a long GAME devised by the applicant’s lawyers to side-step/short-change public consultation — via a zoning plan change (from Industrial 1 zone to another ‘zone’ category, or special zone) that will allows commercial residential development at 41 Wharf Street, at height.

    Dunedin City Council is prepared to act, YET AGAIN, in an ad hoc manner [for just one developer, but which may set an awful precedent that will apply across your City] to undermine — read: throw out — Dunedin City District Plan requirements that were heavily consulted on and resolved into Community Ownership of the Plan document across many years in a legal process based on good faith.

    HERE AGAIN, is your befuddled-by-money, hungry, grubbing, Dunedin City Council moving goal posts and reducing your participation in the planning process for 41 Wharf Street, meanwhile running up your costs to defend the District Plan that you own.

    From the start, this Council could have told the developers to bugger off unless they met the District Plan requirements. The developers at that point might have re-designed their proposal for greater compliance — or initiated, as one option, a private plan change. If a private plan change was likely, a responsible council might have considered whether it should partner in the process — or initiate a plan change itself in order to control the process in the interests of the Community at large.


    WHY didn’t DCC follow the proper, long tested, Planning path in pre-application? With all the expectations legal and otherwise [since, not following this path will eventually place matters before the Environment Court!!] this places on the developer to provide good factual information to City Planning on the proposed development, accompanied by an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) that with some rigour identifies potential adverse effects and mitigations.

    And yes, in the pre-application stage there is the option,,amongst others, to constitute an independent Urban Design Panel (UDP) to test, clarify and make recommendations on the worthiness of the development proposal. The UDP may also remain in force (to make further recommendations) as a consent application or plan change application moves into the following stages. None of this is rocket science — but it seems DCC is a retard. No argument there.

    With the MOU signed by Council and Betterways we have a hybrid beast that puts potential costs on the Council (“the ratepayers”) far in excess of the norm, and which clouds the Council’s independence as a regulatory authority beyond the shadow of doubt (the Mayor, for one, is a political Neanderthal) – this will lead inevitably to ENVIRONMENT COURT. See ya there, DCC.

    The ODT editorial says: It [the UDP] would make a final recommendation to both sides, but each would have to decide whether to accept the findings.

    Let me tell you there are more than two sides now engaged with the fallout of the MOU. We have Betterways and its Chinese financiers; we have the bumbling DCC; we have a large group of dismayed former submitters, members of the Community, s274 parties to the current Environment Court appeal, and others, who all oppose THE TOWER; we have a large group of PRO-TOWER people who have yet to unite into some sort of force (if they aren’t subscription members, board members or staff of the Otago Chamber of Commerce). The editorial is a little naive. The fight has many dimensions, not forgetting the dissembling councillors who appear divided or won’t comment due to their part in the resource consent hearing just gone.

    As I’ve stated in print elsewhere this week, I wish the DCC would settle down (ultimately, quickly, what I mean is “be sacked”… be replaced by government-appointed commissioners). How much more wrath can this Council induce, following its deliberate visitation of Towering DEBT on our Community.

    [There’s the sniff of vulnerability in the air that errs, defaults to another v-word.]

    • Mike

      So I have a quick question _ I was slow to the party here, I really didn’t realise just how much the hotel would effect me personally – is there now going to be a chance now for others to join the objectors?

      • Updated.

        Mike. Unfortunately, you have NO ability to now register as an RMA s274 party to the Environment Court appeal since you missed the closing date to register with the Court – as previously mentioned to you.

        Firstly, all submitters on the resource consent application (LUC 2012-212 – 41 Wharf Street) had the chance to register an appeal within the set time limit, as notified to all submitters within the Decision issued by the Council Hearings Committee. The time limit is set by the legislation.

        Following that, secondly, all submitters received copy of the Betterways appeal which meant submitters ONLY could register as s274 parties with the Court within a set time limit, being 15 days.

        If the appeal of the Decision, taken by Betterways (Appellant), proceeds you could approach a s274 party(s) to help back or finance their campaign, privately.

        As it stands, the Appellant has until the end of April 2014 to tell the Court if it wishes to enter Court-directed mediation with the parties (there being a good number of them); or it must provide a proposed timetable for presentation to Court of evidence for hearing.

        Dunedin City Council is the Respondent.

        It is unclear at this stage if Betterways will proceed with the appeal – but until we know the appeal remains active.

  5. Garrick Tremain 12.3.14 (1)Garrick Tremain hits that nail today.

  6. John P.Evans, concerned citizen

    A picture tells 1000 words!

  7. Garrick Tremain 14.3.14 Jing-a-Song (1)Garrick Tremain (with the help of Allan Walker) 14.3.14. One for Jing-a-Song o’ sixpence.

    Link to come.

    • Peter

      Another Tremain classic. He certainly strikes a common man’s perception of the lovely Jing Song. A gorgeous little lady who is so determined to give us a ‘gift’ for our ‘ beautiful city’. Bless her heart.
      And…..look…at all those who throw red rose petals in her path. Bless them too.

  8. Tomorrow the ODT has some lunatic feature on ‘waterfront’ development. Probably a set-up by the same COC freaks who manipulated the Dunedin Harbourside Plan Change, together with the token figurehead now chairing the COC board. “Welcome me old China” style. Will it be advertorial like the ODT’s stadium and pro-oil pages of company logos.

  9. More wankery from Cull and COC but let’s add ORC and the University. Boys with itchy bits and no clues about what Dunedin can or should be, apart from China Disney University. The council chief executive is buying into the crap at the rate of many knots.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      “I’ll fund an aquarium because it will be such an added attraction for my dear friend’s accommodation block.”
      “People staying in my accommodation block will enjoy my friend’s aquarium.”
      “Oh dear, I am prostrate with grief, because if there is no accommodation block with 5-star people in it all wanting to visit my aquarium there’s no point in my offering to fund it, which was my most earnest wish.”
      “Oh dear, if only my friend were to feel that the aquarium would be fully appreciated by the DCC and the people of Dunedin, and by the people in my accommodation block, he would be very happy to proceed with his gift….”

    ODT columnist Peter Entwisle reminds readers that the crucial concluding paragraph (460) of the DCC Hearing Committee’s decision turning down the original proposal says:

    Our final comment must reflect that, in our opinion, the application as presented to us had a number of shortcomings. Foremost among these was the lack of any compelling landscape evidence that was able to demonstrate that the proposed hotel was an appropriate development at that site, and would not have very long-term adverse visual effects that would change the character of the city.

    ### ODT Online
    Opinion: Art Beat
    Rules to keep city’s character wharf hotel stumbling block
    By Peter Entwisle
    Art isn’t magic. Designers can’t wave wands and change obdurate facts, though some people seem to think they can. This thought was prompted by various reactions to the release of the city council’s Memorandum of Understanding between it and Betterways Ltd, the developers of the proposed hotel and apartment block at 41 Wharf St. It provides for trying to resolve traffic engineering obstacles, coming to some sort of understanding about improved ”connectivity” – providing some kind of pedestrian and possibly vehicle crossing of the railway tracks on the line of Rattray St – and then, if these hurdles can be overcome, setting up an urban design panel whose task would be to look at issues such as the building’s height and appearance to see if something could be found agreeable to both sides.
    Read more


    LUC 2012-212 41 Wharf Street, Dunedin
    Slight anomaly: The council planner’s report on the resource consent application notes that (paragraph 7) in Betterways’ documentation the proposal is for “215 bedrooms, [and] 164 self-contained apartments”. The planner then notes the proposed building plans as submitted “suggest there will be fewer apartments (approximately 140) and more hotel rooms (approximately 254)”.
    That’s between 140 and 164 apartment unit title holders potentially in the can for “woefully inadequate” LTMPs if proper legal checks aren’t done prior to purchase. IF a tower block gets built on the subject site.

    Roger Levie (Hobanz) accuses the regulator tasked with ensuring long-term maintenance plans are fair and maintain equity between present and future owners, of not doing the job. The Ministry of Building, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has not checked a single one since becoming responsible for regulating them in June 2011.

    ### Last updated 05:00 23/03/2014
    Action needed on high-rise maintenance
    By Rob Stock
    The failure to squirrel away enough money to pay for the long-term maintenance of multi-unit dwellings like high-rise apartment blocks must be addressed before the country further intensifies its cities, warns the Home Owners and Buyers Association (Hobanz). The lobby and consultancy group, set up during the leaky homes crisis, alleges that many body corporates have woefully inadequate long-term maintenance plans (LTMP), and simply aren’t salting enough away to pay for future maintenance.

    That penny-pinching threatens great unfairness to future owners of apartments, who will find the previous owners effectively transferred some of the cost of ownership to them, says Hobanz spokesman Roger Levie.

    Hobanz raised the issue against a backdrop of rising apartment-dwelling as the drive to pack more homes into cities gains momentum, a trend most prominent in Auckland where house prices are high due to short supply. It is calling for a prospectus-style set of documents including LTMPs to be given to all prospective apartment buyers. And it wants improvements in the enforcement of the Unit Titles Act 2010 which requires bodies corporate to have LTMPs and maintenance funds, many of which will have to build into millions of dollars to meet the cost of future repairs.
    One of the key problems is there is a significant disincentive for owners, particularly investor owners rather than those living in the apartments, to be realistic about how much money should be put aside each year to pre-fund repairs that could be needed years in the future. The more money chipped in by the current owners, the lower yields investors get which can drag down prices when apartments are on-sold. Levie said Hobanz was concerned for inexperienced buyers as the law does not even require owners or real estate agents to hand over details of the LTMPs unless asked to do so.
    Read more

  12. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said he was not being updated by council staff […] ”When they’ve got something to report, they will make it known to me. Given that I don’t have any expertise in that, I don’t see that there’s much point in getting involved.”

    ### ODT Online Wed, 9 Apr 2014
    Hotel traffic report close to completion
    By Chris Morris
    A report that could offer a solution to traffic issues standing in the way of Dunedin’s waterfront hotel is close to completion, Dunedin City Council staff say. The Otago Daily Times sought a progress report yesterday, nearly a month after the council and Betterways Advisory Ltd announced a memorandum of understanding on March 10 to try to progress the hotel project.
    Read more


    speedfreak43 is onto it.


    ODT 8.4.14 Letter to the editor (page 6)ODT 8.4.14 (page 6) [click to enlarge]

    It was the mayor who declined to reply.

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